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NEW YORK No matter where that H1N1 vaccine is eventually disseminated to a waiting and acutely aware public — be it the corner pharmacy or the school gymnasium down the street — this year’s flu season featuring the novel H1N1 virus is expected to have a profound impact on pharmacy, and pharmacy is poised to take its place center stage.
The impact of the novel H1N1 flu this year ought to raise awareness around what pharmacies and convenient clinic partners bring to the healthcare table in several key ways. For example, neighborhood pharmacies are homes to efficient and practiced execution of healthcare delivery through knowledgeable providers, as well as serving as a virtual cold and flu clearinghouse for all products, including Tamiflu/Relenza antivirals, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, N-95 masks, medical-grade latex and non-latex gloves and a score of over-the-counter cold and flu remedies.
More importantly, it doesn’t look as though pharmacy is being overlooked for the advantages the channel provides versus other possible venues. Both retail pharmacy and retail clinic executives have been in steady contact with state and local government officials since May.
And just last week, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials released specific guidance titled An Operational Framework for Partnering with Pharmacies for the Administration of 2009 H1N1 Vaccine. So the constant outreach on behalf of pharmacies has certainly struck a chord with state healthcare officials.
“We are talking about agencies that are stretched to their limits under normal circumstances,” stated ASTHO executive director Paul Jarris. “Bringing pharmacies into prevention efforts will help take some pressure off state health agencies and traditional healthcare providers. This new guidance will streamline logistics so our focus can be on the most important issue at hand, protecting the public’s health.
ASTHO consulted with a number of leading pharmacy associations for help in creating the guidance, notably: the American Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and Rx Response among several others.